Under eye wrinkles are some of the most frustrating indicators of age on the face. Coupled with crow’s feet, these common fine lines occur as a natural part of the aging process and are often unavoidable.
The skin on faces is meant to conform and stretch, and too much smiling — if there is such a thing — can contribute to permanent under-eye wrinkling over time.
These stubborn creases are also often caused by smoking, sun damage, menopause, poor facial skin care, and genetics. However, there are plenty of time-tested ways to correct and prevent wrinkles around the eyes.
In this article, we’ll consider the best treatment options to help you achieve wrinkle-free skin.
What causes under eye wrinkles?
The key to reducing and preventing wrinkles comes down to collagen production. As you age, your body loses the ability to rapidly produce collagen and elastin proteins that give you that oh-so-desirable smooth skin.
Over time, facial movements and hereditary factors may cause puffy eyes, age spots, dark circles, and wrinkles surrounding the mouth and eye areas.
For these reasons, your anti-aging skin care regimen should always include treatment options that encourage the production of collagen and strengthen the skin.
According to New York City dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a combination of various treatments is the best solution.
“The three main ways to treat these wrinkles are strengthening the skin foundation itself, relaxing the muscles folding the skin, and filling volume losses,” says Zeichner.
Zeichner suggests simple treatments that target these three strategies. “We can strengthen the skin through the use of topical creams that contain ingredients like retinol, which stimulates collagen,” he says. “In addition, lasers improve the quality of the skin while helping to fight wrinkles. When we smile, muscles around the eyes fold the skin above it. Neurotoxins like Botox relax these muscles. So, the best approach when treating these lines is to incorporate all three components.”
Laser treatments are becoming increasingly popular among dermatologists, with some claiming they’re the most effective way to achieve smooth, healthy skin, and treat wrinkled skin around the eyes.
Each treatment is different, but most work by poking tiny, microscopic holes into the skin using carbon dioxide lasers to stimulate new collagen and elastin production. The procedure generally takes about 30 minutes per session.
Following treatment, the body’s natural healing process kicks in to eliminate older damaged tissue and replace it with fresh collagen and elastin.
Dr. Jeffrey Fromowitz, a dermatologist based in Boca Raton, FL, firmly believes that laser treatments are the best way to remove under eye wrinkles.
“We will typically use fractional ablative technology to get a ‘surgical like result’ with a minimally invasive technology. The best part about this procedure is it is one and done,” says Fromowitz. One treatment is all that is needed for results to appear.
Not only do under eye laser treatments target superficial wrinkles and fine lines quickly, but they also treat smile lines, eye bags, dark circles, and damage associated with sun exposure. Plus, laser wrinkle removal is considered safe and requires only a minimal amount of recovery time.
Most people say they’re happy with their results after a single treatment. Laser resurfacing treatments are meant to be permanent and the majority of big-name under eye laser treatments — Fraxel re:store and Fractional CO2, for example — are approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
When compared to other under eye treatments, the potential side effects of laser options can be more intense. Some people report itching, swelling, and blistering, which might last for several days following treatment.
There have also been rare cases where laser treatments caused permanent lightening of the skin and some patients have experienced infections.
Some dermatologists also recommend laser treatments for hyperpigmentation and acne scars. For the best results, maintain your treatment with a good anti-aging skin care regimen and a healthy diet.
Cost: $1,000 to $3,000, depending on your location and specific requirements.
Best for: Laser skin resurfacing is a great option for patients seeking permanent wrinkle reduction and mild skin tightening properties. It’s not considered a good choice for those who have issues with redness, as it could actually make the condition worse.
Botulinum toxin — which, among other names, goes by the brand names Botox, Dysport, Myobloc, and Zeomin — is one of the most popular and effective under eye treatments around.
During the procedure, a dermatologist will inject a very small amount of purified botulinum toxin into targeted muscles below the delicate skin around the eyes, which causes the area to temporarily relax and diminish the appearance of wrinkles. A good dermatologist will inject the measured, perfect amount of solution into your skin in order to prevent your face from appearing too stiff afterward, sparing you what’s come to be known as “trout pout”.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people see significant results just three to four days following a Botox treatment, and experience a significant reduction in the appearance of wrinkles for three to four months. The best thing about Botox is its short recovery period. The procedure can be performed in a half hour or less, and allows patients to return to most of their normal activities immediately afterwards.
As with laser skin treatments, Botox injections can also cause side effects, but they’re almost always mild and temporary. It’s important to note that — with the exception of allergies — it’s generally the injection process itself, and not the botulinum toxin, that causes side effects.
Some people experience swelling, redness, soreness, bruising, mild headache, and weakness in some muscles.
Should you have side effects lasting more than a few days following treatment, be sure to contact your doctor.
Cost: Ranges from $10 to $20 per unit, with most patients requiring 20 to 30 units in the eye region, for an estimated total of $200-$600.
Best for: Botox is a great way to temporarily fight wrinkles around the eyes, but it requires regular upkeep and occasional office visits — every three to four months — for long-term maintenance. It is generally recommended for those with deep creases and dynamic wrinkles.
Chemical peels are another excellent solution for treating under eye wrinkles. These treatments are not your standard eye wrinkle creams and should only be performed by a board-certified dermatologist or esthetician. They employ chemical solutions — often made with alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid — to deeply exfoliate the skin and eventually cause the top dermal layers to peel off.
In addition to eye wrinkles, chemical peels are used to treat acne scars, melasma, damage from ultraviolet light, and sagging skin. Doctors often recommend such treatments for those who want to achieve glowing skin in addition to reducing their wrinkles.
The only real problem with chemical peels is that they can’t be used for all skin types. In fact, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) generally only recommends chemical peels for people with lighter skin tones. Unfortunately, the treatment just doesn’t work as well on people with darker skin tones.
Depending on which type of peel you get — options range from low-level superficial peels to deep peels that take several weeks to heal — recovery time varies.
You’ll be required to use a quality natural moisturizer on your face throughout the recovery period to both prevent dehydration and seal in the results of the peel.
Note that after a chemical peel your skin will be more susceptible to sunburn, with the exterior layer stripped away and unable to protect against harmful UV rays. To prevent sunburn and UV damage during this time, make sure to use a good-quality, extra-SPF sunscreen.
If you don’t like the idea of applying chemicals too near your eyes, you can create a milder eye mask at home using gentle ingredients — using rose water, coconut oil, essential oil, egg white, aloe vera, castor oil, olive oil, and other products — so long as they include natural forms of alpha hydroxy acid and other acids.
Cost: Varies from approximately $150 for superficial peels to several thousands of dollars for deep chemical peels.
Best for: Chemical peels can be used safely by those with normal, oily, dry, and saggy skin to treat wrinkles under the eyes. They’re typically not recommended for those with darker skin tones and shouldn’t be used by people with psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, or other sensitive skin types.
Creams and topical treatments
Of course, there are plenty of products on the market — eye cream, eye serum, and masks — all claiming to provide lasting results for people with under eye wrinkles.
According to the AAD, some facial skin care products are better than others when it comes to improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over the long-term. The best products for combating eye wrinkles are those with alpha hydroxy acids, retinol, and vitamin C. The AAD says that alpha hydroxy acid can exfoliate the skin’s surface and encourage faster turnover rates in skin cells, while products containing vitamin C may soften fine lines.
You might also want to consider trying tretinoin, a prescription topical cream that’s been approved by the FDA to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin is similar to retinol — both are in the vitamin A family — but is much stronger than the over-the-counter version.
Natural remedies, including homemade under-eye creams and anti-wrinkle creams, can also be effective when fortified with natural ingredients that contain certain beneficial acids and vitamins. For example, many citrus fruits contain alpha hydroxy acid, which is why they’re often added to natural home remedies for wrinkles.
The effectiveness of anti-aging creams depends on a wide variety of factors, from genetics to how damaged your skin is. The AAD cautions against using skin care products that are not formulated for your specific skin type, as this can cause your symptoms to worsen.
If you’d prefer to have a topical skin treatment performed by your dermatologist or esthetician, consider looking into spa treatments such as the HydraFacial or a photofacial. Implementing a routine of proper sun protection and making healthy lifestyle changes will help seal the results of your topical treatment.
In short, with the right ingredients — and perhaps a cucumber slice or two — a good store-bought eye mask can go a long way.
Cost: Ranges from $10 to over $500, depending on the brand.
Best for: Eye creams and serums are ideal for those patients who want an affordable, non-immediate solution for treating wrinkles. Again, choosing a formula based on your skin type — ex. going with a gentler option should you suffer from rosacea or eczema — will help ensure that your topical skin treatment doesn’t cause any long-term damage.
Microdermabrasion is another great, minimally-invasive way to combat under eye wrinkles. During this procedure, your dermatologist will use a special tool to spray microcrystals into the skin in order to peel away the outermost layer.
In practice, microdermabrasion removes dead skin cells in order to reveal the fresher, healthier skin beneath. It’s also designed to encourage new production of elastin and collagen, which contribute to smooth, wrinkle-free skin. Unlike dermabrasion (the more intense and in-depth version of this treatment), microdermabrasion can be performed in an hour or less.
While microdermabrasion is generally recommended for those with mild to moderate under eye wrinkles, it is primarily targeted at the superficial layers of the skin. In other words, it’s not the best solution for those with deep wrinkles.
However, the procedure does cause the skin to boost its collagen production, which is essential to helping you achieve smoother and tighter skin.
You can use microdermabrasion alongside topical anti-wrinkle creams for even better results. In general, the benefits of microdermabrasion will last for roughly six to 12 months. Many people go for annual microdermabrasion treatments in order to maintain their results.
Just like any other under eye treatment, microdermabrasion also has potential side effects, however, they are mild and temporary. People who have had cosmetic surgery or have conditions that make them prone to scarring may experience more extreme side effects, so make sure that your dermatologist is well-aware of your medical history before proceeding.
Common side effects associated with microdermabrasion include slight swelling and redness on the face, which subsides after approximately 24 hours. As with chemical peels, newly exposed skin caused by microdermabrasion is more vulnerable to sun damage, so it’s important to apply high-SPF sunscreen every day following treatment.
Cost: Ranges from approximately $75 to $200 per treatment.
Best for: Microdermabrasion is often recommended for people of all skin types who want to treat superficial fine lines and wrinkles. It is not the best treatment for those with deep creases. It is also safe for those with rosacea and acne, and may even help improve such conditions.
Which under eye wrinkle treatment is best?
Before choosing any option, it is important to get a clear idea of the situation. Listing your skin type, budget, and the specific issue that you would like to resolve, will set you on the path to success. Knowing these key points will help you narrow down the options available to you.
As we have explored, each option provides its own benefits, and no treatment is without its drawbacks. A dermatologist can help you determine which option will provide you with the best results.